Today we’re reading Matthew 26.
Matthew continued to chronicle the week of Jesus’ crucifixion and, in verses 1-2, Jesus warned the disciples that it was coming. While the religious leaders conspired together to execute him (vv. 3-5) and Judas came forward to betray him (vv. 14-16), Jesus was anointed by one of his followers (vv. 6-13), observed the Passover with his disciples (vv. 17-30), predicted Peter’s betrayal (vv. 31-35), and moved to the place where it would all begin--Gethsemane (v. 36).
It seems amazing to me that Jesus told the disciples multiple times that he would be betrayed and crucified. One of them is here in verses 1-2 and that prediction told them when to start looking for it to happen. Despite all these predictions, the disciples were completely unprepared. Why? Did they think Jesus was just being paranoid or dramatic? Who knows. What we do know is that Jesus was in deep anguish (v. 38) and the disciples he asked to pray for him were too tired to do what Jesus asked them to do (vv. 40-41, 43-45).
In verse 39, Jesus spoke to the only one who could truly understand and truly care. He prayed, “may this cup be taken from me.” The “cup” in biblical prophecy was the cup of God’s wrath. Jesus was not afraid of the pain of crucifixion; he was dreading the fact that he was about to become cursed by God the Father. The eternal fellowship that the three persons of God had enjoyed for eternity would be broken--temporarily--as Christ became the object of God’s wrath against us.
When the Bible tells us that God loves us, that he demonstrated true love by dying for us, it is impossible for us to understand how difficult and costly that love was. It was unfathomably offensive for the holy one of God to become a sin offering for us. It was unbelievable that one of the three persons of God would be disfellowshipped for a time from the Father and Spirit. Yet it was absolutely necessary if any one of us were to be saved. Christ’s love is the only reason he went through with the cross. His love for us caused the triune God to will for the death of the son. It was a bitter cup, for sure, the most vile thing that any person has ever experienced. But Jesus did that for us.
Give thanks again for the sacrifice of our Lord. Not one of us would do what he did but he did it because of his great love for us.